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Published: Jan 20, 2012

Ear infections are one of the most common forms of canine infection. Dogs with large, floppy ears are more prone to developing ear infections, but any breed can be at risk, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

If you notice your dog is excessively scratching or rubbing its ears or shaking its head, this may indicate that they are suffering from an infection. VCA reports ear infections can often cause inflammation and reddish discoloration of the ear flap or inside of the ear and this is sometimes accompanied by a foul smell and yellow or black discharge. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it is important to take your pet to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible. These same clinical signs may also point to ear mites, which tend to be more common in puppies, but a vet can determine the cause to properly treat the issue.

The ASPCA explains that ear infections are common because the L-shape and angle of a dogs' ear canals make it difficult for debris or foreign objects to escape once they are inside.  Ear infections can occur if a dog spends a lot of time swimming or is bathed frequently. If a foreign object or a tumor obstructs the ear canal, this can lead to excessive growth of bacteria and yeast.  Recurrent ear infections may also point to problems with allergy—such as food allergy or inhaled allergies—or even hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism.  

Most infections can be treated by regular cleaning and medication. In severe cases, the ASPCA reports that dog shots of anesthesia and surgery may be needed.  If your dog begins experiencing recurrent infections, a more complete medical evaluation will most likely be recommended by your veterinarian.